Midland Girl Meets Music Star as Part of Make-A-Wish
June 29, 2006
By Stephanie Miller
Midlander Kaitlyn Barton has an autographed photo, tambourine, CD and personal pictures from her visit with singer Josh Groban. But the one thing that has the Midlander still beaming a week later are the memories.
"I've been listening to his CDs as they came out and I've been wondering what he was like and then it's like he's right there in front of me and it just makes it so more meaningful," Barton, 16, said.
Groban, whose hits include "You Raise Me Up," was Barton's first choice for her Make-A-Wish, a desire she's had for a year and a half. Barton has juvenile craniopharyngioma, a non-cancerous tumor that has surpressed her pituitary gland, which subsequently functions at a much lower rate, she said.
Like all requests, meet-a-celebrity-wishes are unique in their own way. "I think it really says something for a celebrity that is willing to take their time to spend with a wish child. I think it says something of that person's character of how they care for other people," said Donna Mezera, program services coordinator of the Make-A-Wish Foundation West Texas Regional Office.
This academic year, Barton will be a junior at Midland Christian School, where she plays the flute and piccolo in the band. Barton, who has been a band member for five years, said she's considering pursuing a career either in radiology or music education.
The regional office granted the wish and sent Barton and her family to meet Groban, who was recording his latest album in a California studio where Janet Jackson, Marilyn Manson and Michael Jackson have recorded.
Barton has been a Groban fan since he appeared on "Ally McBeal." She describes Groban's music as classic and modern, a description both Groban and his parents liked, she said. Barton met Groban's parents, whom she said attend all of his recordings, at the music session.
Barton said she was drawn to Groban's music because it is the only type she can listen to because of her illness. "It made me relax plus that show on Ally McBeal, I was really intrigued. The voice coming out of that body just amazed me."
Barton and Groban met on a Thursday during her week-long visit. "It didn't sink in until we were in the limo. We rode around forever," Barton said of the "long" 30-minute ride to the studio along with her family and Herb, a Make-A-Wish volunteer from Boston.
Barton's mother, Nancy, was among the first to see Groban. "I was just thinking 'What is she going to think when she sees him,'" Nancy Barton said, recalling the moment. "I stood there (taking pictures) capturing that moment because you will never catch that moment again," she added.
And that moment was priceless for Barton.
"It was a relief because all the stress was gone and I was finally there" but there was anxiety because he was there, Barton said recalling seeing Groban face-to-face for the first time. "That's like your idol standing before you," she added.
Groban, decked out in a T-shirt, jeans and a baseball cap, embraced Barton. "I'm never going to wear that T-shirt again!" she said, smiling and pointing to her pink butterfly T-shirt. "He loves to hug, so I'm never going to wear that -T-shirt again!" she vowed.
Barton said Groban was everything "and more" than what she expected and describes him as down to earth. "He's so polite and he was comfortable in jeans and a T-shirt. He's a real person. What you see is what you get," she said. "It was like he was an old friend, he and his parents. You can't meet any nicer people."
Barton said she and Groban have some things in common. "We're quiet, but we'll speak our mind when we have to and we both tell jokes." Barton said her mother also sees the similarities. She said "he's the guy version of me," Barton said of her mother.
During her studio visit, Barton played the drums and a tambourine, which Groban autographed for her. But the most moving music session for Barton came when Groban sang and played her favorite song, "Remember When it Rained," on the piano.
"And the tears just started rolling," Barton said. "His voice is just so powerful and it made me so excited that he was taking time out of his day to sing for me," she said.
"It was inspirational cause I love music, probably as much as he does, and to have someone like that just standing next to you, it was an amazing feeling. That was a once in a lifetime experience and I don't think I'll ever feel that way again."
During her California trip, Barton visited Universal Studios, the Pacific Ocean and Santa Monica, where her hotel was located near the high school where "Beverly Hills 90210" was filmed.
Most of all, Barton will remember her time with Groban and his parents.
"I know stars, they don't like to take chances and he took a chance and they welcomed us into their hearts and I think we became really good friends," she said.
Barton encourages physicians of children with life-threatening illnesses to contact the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
"It's almost magical, just the thought that all these people worked so hard to make your dream come true and then it actually happens," she said. "It just makes it a wonderful experience."